Upon arrival in Casablanca Plume remembered that he had errands to run. That was why he left his valise on the bus. He would return to collect it after taking care of more pressing matters. He went to the Hotel Atlantic.
Instead of booking a room, however, he deemed it wiser attend to his financial affairs. He asked for the address of the Societe Generale.
He walked over to the bank, presented his card to a customer service agent, and was shown into the office of an assistant vice-president. But he did not pull out his letters of credit, for no sooner did he take the proffered seat than he decided it would make better sense to acquaint himself first with the principal sights of Bousbir, the Arab quarter, with its Moorish cafes, as no one should leave “Casa” without seeing a belly dance, though to be sure the dancers are Jewish, not Muslim. He was given the name of a fashionable cafe, took a cab there and was sitting with a dancer in his lap, ordering aperitifs, when he realized that all this bustle was foolish. Given the strain of travel, the time change, and the different climate, to which the traveler is unaccustomed, wouldn’t he be well-advised to fortify himself before doing anything else? With this thought in mind he headed off to the Beer King, a restaurant in the new city, and was about to be seated, when it occurred to him that it’s not enough to wine and dine when you travel, you’ve also got to make sure that everything’s in order for the following day. Rather than cavort like a sultan at restaurants and bars, you should exercise prudence and obtain a timetable for the ship you’ll be boarding tomorrow.
That would be time well spent. And off to accomplish this task he went when it struck his fancy to check out the customs area. There are some days when they won’t let so much as a box of matches through, and if such an item is found in your possession, on your person or in your baggage, you’ll be in hot water.
On the way, he recalled reading somewhere that many boards of health are run by quacks who prevent people in perfect health from boarding ship. That being the case, he had to admit it would be shrewd to show up now, in shirt sleeves, as though for rowing practice, full of vigor despite the evening chill. This was what he was engaged in doing when the police in their vigilance questioned him, listened to his answers and, from that moment on, never let him go.
-- Henri Michaux (trans. David Lehman)